The Triton


Being a good crew member helps leaders lead


There have been a number of articles written and views expressed regarding leadership recently but what about the flip side? What about the art of following?



Obviously, not everyone will be in a leadership position. You need the team players, those in non-leadership positions, to understand their roles and duties for a yacht or any business to run smoothly.



So what do leaders want and look for in crew? What do leaders need from them? What makes it all work?



The captains bridge discussion in last month’s Triton revealed some of the attributes captains look for in new crew. They mentioned they want them to be eager, willing to learn, and able to take instruction. Also that they observe, stay sober and put away the cell phone.



That’s a pretty good list for starting in yachting or most any career. They also mentioned humility and ego, an area I would like to expand on and then also mention a couple other skills.

I have written about this thing called ego before in this space but it pops up again and again in discussions about this industry. It can be an issue for anyone in any position, so this just isn’t about newbies.



However, humility certainly is near the top of most captains’ wish list for crew. It seems a little humility can take you a long way. If you can wrap your head around the fact that you are in a high-end service industry and not a look-at-me contest, well, you’re on the right track.



No matter where you come from or what you accomplished back home, now you are beginning a yacht crew career and you are entitled to no more or less than anyone else. Your skills are on your CV and have been noted. Some may come into play in the job but right now, when you’re just starting out, it’s just time to dive in and get to work.



Another life skill you want in your tool kit is acceptance. There will be things, situations, people and circumstances you cannot control. The willingness to practice acceptance will help a great deal with your overall emotional wellness.



The sooner someone gets this and starts practicing it in their lives, the better their lives will be. So start working on this when you are young and, believe me, you will be glad you did. It is a lifelong practice and it is front and center in yachting. You are restricted with what you can do and where you can go. You are on other people’s schedules. You are in confined spaces. You are not in charge. I think you can see how learning the practice of acceptance will benefit you.



If you struggle with this or are not sure how to get better with it, there is a lot of information out there. Do a little research. Study up on it a little or consider working with a coach. I help folks with this kind of stuff all the time. The bottom line is you can learn and get better with practicing acceptance.



Another life skill to bring onboard is gratitude. Yes, I have written about this before as well but there is no doubt about how gratitude affects attitude. There is way less to complain about in life when you are grateful. It’s really remarkable.



If you’re not using this tool, try it out and you’ll see what I mean. If you can stick with these practices they become your default setting, you can always go to them when you need them. With continued practice they become part of your brain’s standard operating procedure. It becomes what you automatically go to instead of blaming others, anger and negative reactions.



Try not to get frustrated if these skills don’t come easy at first. They may be up against conditioning from earlier in life that has caused negative reactions to be the first place you go.



But as you focus your awareness on these reactions and on your practice of both acceptance and gratitude, you will start to shift. You will see and feel it happening and you will like it.



So for the art of following, if you take the attributes the captains mentioned and add some acceptance and gratitude in there, I think you have a pretty good recipe for being a valued and desired crew member. Just put your all into it, even if you think this is a temporary thing. If you give it your best, good things will come from it.


Rob Gannon is a 25-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach ( Comments on this column are welcome at

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